Women's Soccer USA

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January 01, 2008

Top W-League and WPSL coaches

The search for women’s pro league head coaches started and as coaches make the difference in women’s soccer, we are considering possible contenders. We intentionally left out college coaches from top collegiate programs as it will be difficult to lure them away.
The Legends - DiCicco , Gabarra
Tony DiCicco and Jim Gabarra are already in charge of Boston and Washington respectively.
Brian Boswell at Ajax, Charlie Naimo at Pali Blues and Shek Borkowski at Indiana have demonstrated their ability to win titles consistently. Whilst there are talented coaches at lesser known clubs (Mike Riley at Long Island) it is when you get the combination of a well run club and an astute coach that consistently good results start to happen. But if we are to go beyond the big five of Washington Freedom, Vancouver Whitecaps, FC Indiana, Soccer Plus and Ajax America then it may be to Ottawa and Long Island that we should look. Riley is a clever coach and Long Island has never lacked talented players.
Tony DiCicco – Soccer Plus Connecticut (WPSL)
No introduction needed. After the WUSA fiasco, DiCicco returned to coaching and had a good, not great WPSL season in 2007.
But, DiCicco does have a coaching record unmatched in the world of women’s soccer - particularly with the US WNT. He is best known as the coach of the US WNT from 1994-1999, during which time the team won an Olympic gold medal in 1996 and the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup.
Jim Gabarra - Washington Freedom (W-League)
There are few greater success stories in women’s soccer than that of Jim Gabarra. He had a difficult time at the start at Washington but was never going to be pushed around by players however famous.
In 2001 the Freedom stumbled badly, finishing second to the bottom in the standings. In 2002, the Freedom made a complete turn around and made it to the WUSA championship only to fall 3-1 to the Carolina Courage. The next year, Gabarra led the Freedom to a WUSA championship, defeating the Atlanta Beat 2-1 in overtime.
Gabarra's brain is of course an acute one and his tactical ability very smart. But the thing that really sets Gabarra apart is his determination not to be pushed around by anybody - owners, players are always kept in line.
Brian Boswell - Ajax America (WPSL)
The Open Cup winner in 2000, 2003, 2004, and 2007, Boswell also led Ajax to WPSL championship in 2001.
The British born Boswell is blessed with an abundance of California soccer talent. Boswell’s experience should be enough to once again challenge for both WPSL and Open Cup titles and may make him a strong candidate. The Ajax America coach has won plenty of admirers for his coaching exploits. His side play a physical game with soccer which is pleasing to the eye and, most of all, they get results.
Charlie Naimo – Pacific Palisades (W-League)
While the Freedom and FC Indiana were winning league titles in their respective leagues, the highly fancied Jersey Sky Blue team failed to advance to W-League Final Four. Charlie Naimo, whose main success came with the New Jersey Wildcats, was very popular with Sky Blue fans who credit him with the comparative success of last season. Naimo is an energetic man who is famed for the motivational skills, while his strength of personality and unflinching belief suggest he can more than handle the rigors of the job and players. But he lacks the big game experience of Gabarra or DiCicco. He left the Wildcats two years ago and Jersey Sky Blue last summer after reports suggested his no-nonsense manner did not go down too well with his previous bosses.
Shek Borkowski - FC Indiana (W-League)
The exploits of Borkowski at FC Indiana have seen him emerge as a viable candidate. WPSL’s most successful coach of the last few seasons, he led FC Indiana to two WPSL titles in 2005 and 2007. He doesn't get too emotional. He's calm and he's able to bond together good players with a good winning attitude. And that is certainly part of Borkowski's success - he is a leader albeit with an understated style. Borkowski's team play effective and attacking soccer. FC Indiana moved to W-League after winning the WPSL title in 2007 and whether they can continue their success in the new league remains to be seen.
Denise Reddy – Jersey Sky Blue (W-League)
Good overseas playing pedigree, good knowledge of the Euro soccer scene. Reddy appeared in 336 games during her career with Malmö scoring 35 goals during her 10 years as Malmö’s starting center back serving as the team captain from 1999 to 2005. But it will be Reddy’s first head coaching position at this level.
Bob Birarda - Vancouver Whitecaps (W-League)
Despite having the best of everything in Vancouver, Birarda failed to lead his club to playoffs last season. But make no mistake, Birarda is well respected, experienced and qualified and expect that Vancouver will do much better in 08. Birarda’s teams tend to be well organized defensively and difficult to score on. Despite his benign public image, Birarda is a single-minded, does not like-to-lose coach.
Frank Lofranco - Ottawa Fury (W-League)
The way former Toronto striker Lofranco breathed life into the Ottawa Fury team and the vibrancy with which it plays is impressive. Lofranco is a proponent of possession oriented soccer and the thinking part of the game. Lofranco has led the Fury for the past 5 years during which the Fury has become one of most successful teams in the league. He led the club to four consecutive W-League Championship Finals (2003, 04, 05, 06).
Keith Jones – Atlanta Silverbacks (W-League)
Jones joined the Silverbacks as head coach in February 2007. He is a former professional player in the English Premier League, where he played with Charlton Athletic and Chelsea. He began coaching with the Chelsea FC Academy in London and last season led Atlanta to W-League title game where they lost to Gabarra’s Washington Freedom. Good young coach with a bright future in the women’s game.

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